A PIONEERING system which shares information about crime has been praised by the Justice Secretary.

The Neighbourhood Watch system sends out text messages and e-mails around communities to keep them safe and reassured.

Kenny MacAskill yester-day visited Rutherglen, the area which pioneered the Neighbour-hood Alert System in Scotland.

Safer Rutherglen allows individuals, businesses, and other agencies to sign up for secure on-line messages and alerts on crime and other safety issues in their area.

Messages are sent by e-mail, phone or text from Police Scotland, Neighbour-hood Watch administrators, local authorities and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

Mr MacAskill said: "For years, Neighbourhood Watch Scotland has been sharing information on local criminal activity, not only keeping communities safe, but critically making their residents feel safe.

"Indeed, by taking care of neighbours and neighbour-hoods, NWS has played an important role in helping us meet our commitment of reducing crime, currently at its lowest level for 39 years.

"This alert system takes that safety and reassurance into the 21st century by using technology to quickly and securely pass on essential crime and safety information to people and organisations in the area.

"I welcome this innovative approach from NWS which will make Scotland a safer place to live."

Neighbourhood Watch Scotland is a key partner in the Scottish Government's commitment to tackle crime with more than £400,000 of funding allocated.